We all know the foods and drinks that are the main culprits for causing tooth decay, cavities and gum disease. They include refined carbohydrates, high in added sugar, such as chocolate, sweets, cookies, cakes and soft drinks. But just because you avoid these foods and beverages, doesn’t mean you are not at risk of the oral conditions mentioned above.
That’s because there are a number of common foods and beverages with hidden sugar, that we wouldn’t expect to cause oral problems. These can slowly wreak havoc on your teeth and gums, even if you maintain a thorough oral care and hygiene routine.
To add to the confusion, some of these foods are labelled misleadingly as “healthy”, when in fact they are actually very high in sugar. They are easy to get stuck or caught in your teeth, which prolongs your teeth’s exposure to oral bacterial acid. Since parents think these kinds of foods are “healthy”, they are prone to allow their children to snack, or even graze, on them all day.
According to the Australian Dental Association (ADA), the following foods and beverages are “risky” treats and snacks that should be consumed in moderation, and cleaned off teeth afterwards:
- Dried fruit. It doesn’t matter if it’s natural, organic, bioorganic or biodynamic; dried fruit is still a sugary concentrate that sticks in all the crevices of your teeth. They may even have added sugar. Rinse your mouth well after consuming.
- Muesli bars contain heaps of nutritious nuts and grains but what holds them all together? Sugar!
- Diet soft drinks don’t contain added sugar but artificial sweeteners are highly acidic, and can cause tooth erosion, if sipped on or drunk frequently.
- Potato chips and other savouries. Graze on these refined carbs for a bit, and they get caught in every nook and cranny in your teeth. Most contain added sugar.
- Ice is designed to cool your drinks, not for munching on. Do so, and you may end up cracking or chipping a tooth!
- Sports drinks may provide valuable electrolytes; however the energy component usually comes in the form of added sugar, which makes them very acidic.
- Low-fat yoghurt may have had the fat content reduced, but in its place is a whole lot of added sugar which converts into fat anyway.
- Wine. Red wine is heavily pigmented and stains your teeth, while white wine is very acidic. Additionally, drinking alcohol can result in dehydration and a dry mouth minus the protective effects of saliva.